Just about every quarterback in this year’s draft who could wind up with the Giants has had success. They would not be under consideration for the team — or the NFL — if they didn’t.
Dave Gettleman is looking for one who has failed.
Not on a regular basis, of course. Just enough to be tested. Enough to have been able to bounce back. Enough to show that he can handle what may be about to come his way.
“Being the quarterback of a team in this kind of a market is a load, is a mental load,” Gettleman said. “You’ve got to really vet out the backgrounds of these guys . . . It’s more than just collecting data and looking at a guy’s physical talent. It’s about his makeup.”
That’s why, when considering quarterbacks, Gettleman said he wants to see how the player has handled the difficult times.
“Some of them you have to dig so deep to see where they had adversity, it’s painful,” Gettleman said. “Everybody has adversity. Everybody.”
For Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, two of the top prospects at the position, adversity comes in measurables. The former is considered by some to be too short to play in the NFL, the latter too slow. Yet both excelled in college.
Both also spent long stretches of their collegiate careers as backups waiting for opportunities. If the Giants decide to employ the “Kansas City model” of drafting a quarterback and having him learn from Eli Manning for a period of time, that patience will be an important skill to have. Haskins, in interviews since the winter, has gone so far as to gush about the possibility of sitting behind Manning, saying he would “love” to do so.
Haskins also has been able to play well in some sticky situations. His Ohio State debut came in 2017 in front of more than 100,000 fans at Michigan when J.T. Barrett was injured. He stepped in and led the Buckeyes to a win without having taken many snaps in practices.
“To do what he did in Ann Arbor when we were losing the game against one of the top defenses in America,” former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said, “that’s when we all knew.”
Duke’s Daniel Jones gave a first-hand demonstration in overcoming adversity and growing from it at the Senior Bowl in January. On the first day of practice at the event, he threw a pair if interceptions and seemed disoriented by the schemes and systems in place for him. By the end of the week, he was an MVP in the game.
“Just showing the poise and showing kind of a comfort in the offense is something they wanted to see,” Jones said of scouts at the all-star game. “At times, I’m not sure I did great with that, to be honest. But in the game, I think I did get comfortable and I got into a rhythm. Hopefully that showed them something and showed them I had the ability to do that and had the resiliency to do that.”
His coach at the event noticed.
“He showed a lot of mental toughness,” Jon Gruden said. “He had some tough moments . . . but he came back the next day and the next day and the next day and showed the right stuff.”
The challenge for Missouri’s Drew Lock was playing for three different offensive coordinators in four years. He still managed to throw 99 career touchdown passes.
“I know that I’ve been through a certain amount of adversity at the University of Missouri that will get me ready for the NFL,” Lock said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I know I’m athletic enough to be in the NFL and I’m going to prove that. I know that I have the arm strength to play, I can make any throw on the field and I know I have the creativity out of the pocket to make plays when the pocket breaks down. I’m just a really confident guy.”
That’s something Gettleman is looking for, too. Not only must the Giants’ next quarterback have been humbled by tough times, he must not care about it. He pointed to Manning’s rookie season in 2004; Manning started the final nine games and lost the first eight of them, some in rather spectacularly bad fashion. Many inside and outside the organization wondered if the team had made a colossal mistake in trading for Manning at the top of the previous draft. But in the last game of the year, with the Giants near the goal line and time running down against the Cowboys, Manning changed Tom Coughlin’s call to a run and handed off to Tiki Barber for the game-winning score.
“He has the [guts] to audible to a draw,” Gettleman said. “If we don’t score, we lose the game. You have to have a mental toughness about you to play the position here in New York. Or to play the position anywhere. That is a huge piece of it. It is important. If you don’t think it is, you need to re-think it.”